The First Interpreter

November 30, 2010 at 9:58 am | Posted in Genesis | 9 Comments
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In Genesis’s account of the adventures of Joseph, we see yet another Biblical “first.” In Genesis Chapter 40, Joseph, the “dream expert” (Genesis 37:19) is in prison. The Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker happen to be imprisoned with him. They have some very odd dreams, and Joseph, realizing that God can help him, agrees to interpret their dreams. Thereby he becomes the first “interpreter” in the Bible.

An interpreter is a person who translates messages between people among whom there is some barrier to communication.

And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.

Genesis 40:8

Of all the ways that Joseph reminds us of a type of Christ, here is one of the most poignant. For we, like the baker and the butler, were at one time separated from our King, and trapped in a prison of sin. We dreamed of ways to make peace with God. But our sinful condition kept Him from coming into forgiving fellowship with us. Then came a Man who could speak to both parties: King and prisoner; God and man. His name was similar to “Joseph,” but we know Him as Jesus. He was the only One Who could truly interpret our dreams of escaping prison. He brought the Good News from His King to us, and took our responsive message of repentance, and our cries for rescue, back to the King.

The word “interpreter” shows up again in the book of Job. Elihu is attempting to explain to Job the way God sometimes deals with those whose sins are bringing them into an eternal spiritual prison.

Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness: Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.

Job 33:22-24

What a beautiful picture of Christ the Interpreter! Among all the angels of Heaven, One greater than an angel comes forward, One Who is unlike all the rest (“one among a thousand”). By His grace He imputes righteousness to lost sinners bound for the pit, offering Himself as their ransom.


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